COMMENTARY | Tiger Woods is by far the best player on the planet at the time of this writing.
He's won four times on the PGA Tour, he's leading the FedEx Cup points and PGA Tour money lists, he's all but a lock to win Player of the Year honors, and he's the heavy favorite to win at Merion Golf Club.
He also will not win the US Open this week, and here's why:
Despite the fact that Merion will present one of the shortest major championships in the last decade (the course will play below 7,000 yards at least one round), Mother Nature has taken her toll on the Philadelphia area over the past two weeks. As such, the course's longest holes -- such as the colossal 628-yard par-5 No. 4 hole and two par-4s that will measure north of 500 yards -- will play even longer.
That means Tiger Woods will have to hit his driver at some point during each round. That's not a good thing.
When Woods recorded his biggest victory in almost five years at the 2013 Players Championship at Sawgrass, golf fans saw a methodical, patient player break down a golf course with surgical precision. Woods couldn't miss, and even when he did, his miss was by no means disastrous. Golf commentator Johnny Miller mentioned that we may be seeing a "preview of what Tiger will do at Merion," and he was right. At least, he was right at the time.
As he has done so many times in his career, Woods stuck to his game plan at Sawgrass and broke every hole down into sections. He hit more 3- and 5-woods off the tee than any other club, placing himself into prime position time and time again (with the exception of his tee-shot on hole No. 14 on Sunday). He treated The Players like a major, and he reaped the benefits of his labor and focus.
Woods will not have the same luxury this week at the US Open. From a performance standpoint, Woods is currently ranked No. 75 on tour in driving accuracy at just over 61 percent. He's actually having one of his best years in that statistic, but that's due to favoring his fairway woods over his driver, which every golf fan knows is Tiger's least confident club.
For the sake of argument, let's pretend Tiger leaves his driver in his bag, thus leaving him longer approach shots into Merion's longest and most difficult holes. Chances are Tiger will miss a green here or there with a long iron. That spells more even more trouble for Woods, who is ranked No. 62 on tour in scrambling. Out of 164 missed greens in regulation, he's only managed to save par (or better) 99 times (60 percent). That ratio will not benefit him on Merion's deep rough and sloping greens.Yes, Tiger Woods will win more tournaments this season. He will probably win a major. It just won't be this week's US Open.
Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can also be found on the Back9Network. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- PGA Tour
- Merion Golf Club